Helicopter Rigging & Lifts



When you think about using helicopters for rigging and lifts, you must understand first that there are some places just inaccessible to other, ground-based forms of transportation. This is no different in the rigging industry than in anywhere else. Rigging is after all the moving and lifting of objects that if not for the use of specialized means could not be done so.


Reason why a helicopter is needed in rigging

Of course, difficult and inaccessible locations like mountain tops and blocked-off valleys, marine settings, and very far-off distances can all be taken advantage of by using a helicopter. But these are not the only situations in which helicopters can be used in rigging and lifts.

Sometimes it just makes good financial sense to make use of a helicopter’s speed and efficiency. Some jobs may be achievable by more traditional, ground-based transportation, but the length of time it takes say a truck or a train to reach its destination may make it more financially feasible to use a helicopter instead.

Yes, a helicopter moves at a much higher rate of speed, but on top of that it’s important to remember than when a load is carried through the air, it has a direct line from Point A to Point B. This means getting the job done faster. Even though using a helicopter may be more expensive on the front end, after one considers time as a monetary factor, it could very well be more cost efficient to use a helicopter instead.

Helicopters for transporting objects and materialshelicopter2.jpg

While the first modern helicopter was invented back in 1940, it has been only since the 1960s that they have been used extensively in the lifting and hauling of objects, and materials as well.

A helicopter can be used to efficiently harvest materials like virgin timber in the course of logging operations. They can be used to transport materials such as concrete to high elevations for later assembly. In the case of fighting wildfires, helicopters are used to lift and dump large buckets of water.

Special rigging considerations

All the same techniques, hardware, even the hitches, signals, and sling selections can be applied when using a helicopter as well. There are some considerations to address, however:

-A helicopter, unlike a crane (which is more stable), means that the degree of instability will of course be greater. That instability is very similar to that of a barge mounted crane or derrick in a maritime setting.
-For reasons regarding safety, the heightened importance of the signalman to be in clear view of the operator (the helicopter pilot) is of extreme importance.
-Helicopter rotors are known to produce a large amount of prop or downwash, the air forced down by the aerodynamic action of the blade in motion. This means more noise for the rigger and longer durations.
-Rigging helicopters may not be an option in inclement weather conditions. If so, this means downtime, which in turn means a loss of efficiency.

Types of helicopters used in heavy lifting and transporting

Some of the most common helicopters used in rigging operations include the:

-Sikorsky S-58T
-Sikorsky CH-53E
-Sikorsky 158AC
-Bell 214B-1

A good helicopter, rigging contractor needs to have extensive knowledge just in rigging but in helicopters as well. Knowing the right helicopter to use, the pilot, the company, whether to buy or lease, these are all important considerations when deciding whether or not to use a helicopter in rigging operations.


Recommended products:

RIGGING LEVEL 2 TRAINEE GUIDE     NCCER: Basic Rigger Trainee Guide     Rigging Fundamentals NCCER Trainee Guide     Bob's Overhead Crane & Rigging Handbook